Sunday, January 16, 2011

on loving one's own story

It's been incredibly rainy this weekend. Even for the Pacific Northwest. For the first time ever, I called the Oregonian and had them redeliver the Sunday paper. Even though the thing was double-bagged it was soaked through by daylight!

But, now that I've devoured the dry replacement, and tuned in to the playoffs to find Seattle getting anhialated by Chicago, and have administered an herbal remedy to my ailing child, I am finally at my desk. The Empress awaits. Or rather, her contemporary counterpart, Liz, whose storyline needs a little bit more of a kick in the ass.

I have to say, on re-reading the manuscript, I rather love Sisi and Liz. I love their quirkiness, their spunkiness, their views of the world. Sure, there are a few plot points that need a little extra tension, a bit more breadcrumbing with the diary and all, but on the whole, this book I've written is exactly the sort of book I sought when I was a bookish youngster. Novels that featured girls, at their most vulnerable ages, with the reality of adulthood around the corner--the expectations, the lack of control over one's body and mind. The hormones!

I have no idea if anyone will ever publish this thing, of course. There's no explosions, no ghosts, no vampires. The magic is a bit more complicated than typical YA, and I linger in certain aspects of character longer than many readers have patience for, but if you write a book, invest in characters, a story, a world, shouldn't your main audience be yourself? I ask this in all sincerity.

Would you write a book you wouldn't read if that book went on to be a bestseller? Or would you rather write the best possible book you could, that pleases you, and have it go nowhere? Well, which one would you choose?


  1. Is Carson sick? I hope he gets better soon! Delaney has pneumonia, and Bomber and I have been saddled with strep.

    And, why choose between writing a bestseller and "the best possible book" one could when one can just write both?

  2. Hi Max,

    So sorry to hear of your strep! Carson has phlegm. So, not so bad. He's milking it though, and I'm being the doting mommy.

    On the other matter, of course both would be ideal, and I'm not saying they are completely mutually exclusive, however(cynical me alert), I have always been just a wee bit out of step with the normative world, and now, as I look at 50 through the barrel of a shotgun, I'm finally accepting of the fact I'll never be prom queen. I'd much rather find a small, quirky readership that wants to hang out with me and my scribbles.

  3. In all honesty, the answer to your question, which is an essential, even VALUABLE question is....NO. Your main audience is not yourself. When you truly get this, you truly get writing for readers, and then you'll get published. Are you writing for you or for others to read you? From your blog, I bet you're writing to be read, and I can see why. You're good.

  4. Point well taken, Jody. Of course one needs to write with an audience in mind if publication is a hope.

    I must say, though, as a reader, I'm very hard to please. Probably too hard, which all too often leads to a cycle of "failure of spirit-getting back on the horse."

    With regard to my published stories and essays (and even articles), I find that I'm often loath to reread them, lest I find need to edit and revise.

    I do know that when I reread pages or chapters I've put aside for a while, and I actually like what I'm reading, it's ridiculously comforting, and sometimes, that's enough.


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